Development of a hepatitis B virus reporter system to monitor the early stages of the replication cycle

Hironori Nishitsuji, Hiromi Yamamoto, Ritsuko Shiina, Keisuke Harada, Saneyuki Ujino, Kunitada Shimotohno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Currently, it is possible to construct recombinant forms of various viruses, such as human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) and hepatitis C virus (HCV), that carry foreign genes such as a reporter or marker protein in their genomes. These recombinant viruses usually faithfully mimic the life cycle of the original virus in infected cells and exhibit the same host range dependence. The development of a recombinant virus enables the efficient screening of inhibitors and the identification of specific host factors. However, to date the construction of recombinant hepatitis B virus (HBV) has been difficult because of various experimental limitations. The main limitation is the compact genome size of HBV, and a fairly strict genome size that does not exceed 1.3 genome sizes, that must be packaged into virions. Thus, the size of a foreign gene to be inserted should be smaller than 0.4 kb if no deletion of the genome DNA is to be performed. Therefore, to overcome this size limitation, the deletion of some HBV DNA is required. Here, we report the construction of recombinant HBV encoding a reporter gene to monitor the early stage of the HBV replication cycle by replacing part of the HBV core-coding region with the reporter gene by deleting part of the HBV pol coding region. Detection of recombinant HBV infection, monitored by the reporter activity, was highly sensitive and less expensive than detection using the currently available conventional methods to evaluate HBV infection. This system will be useful for a number of applications including high-throughput screening for the identification of anti-HBV inhibitors, host factors and virus-susceptible cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere54849
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number120
Publication statusPublished - 01-02-2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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